Ecuador Declares State of Emergency; Rafael Correa Calls Protests “Coup d’État”
October 1, 2010 By Staff
Today in Latin America
Top Story — The Ecuadoran government declared a state of emergency Thursday after protests by police officers and members of the military turned ugly and sent President Rafael Correa to the hospital.
Correa was attacked with tear gas as well as shoved, insulted and pelted with water as he attempted to speak to the crowd protesting austerity cuts. He called the protests an attempt at a coup d’état and was taken to Quito’s National Police Hospital.
“I’ll leave here as president or they’ll take me out as a corpse,” Correa told a local television station, according to Reuters.
One person was killed and there are reports of between six and 50 people injured in the clashes between the protesting police and supporters of Correa.
“We’ve treated 50 people in Quito for medical emergencies due to asphyxiation due to tear gas and impacts from pellets and teargas cannisters,” said Jorge Arteaga of the Red Cross, according to The Wall Street Journal.
With the state of emergency in effect civil liberties have been suspended and soldiers are authorized to carry out searches without a warrant. General Ernesto Gonzalez, the Ecuadoran army chief, demanded that the protesting officers end the uprising and promised that those involved “would have their rights respected” if they turned themselves in.
Correa said that there was a plan in place to end the standoff, but well into the night Teleamazonas streamed live footage of what appeared to be firefights between the protesting police officers and Ecuadoran security forces.
World leaders sent messages to Correa throughout the day Thursday to express their support and Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, called for calm and expressed support for the Ecuadoran government.
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Image: Presidencia de la República del Ecuador @ Flickr.